Photo courtesy of Branden Walker
Luke Spencer doesn’t see Saturday’s game against FC Cincinnati, his former club, as a chance to make a statement. Simply, the Louisville City FC forward is happy to head home to play in front of friends and family at Nippert Stadium.
“Yeah, it’s special to me” said Spencer, who attended Winton Woods High School before going on to a storied college career with Xavier University. “…It’s motivating to play in front of them, but also to see your old teammates, so it’ll be special.”
Spencer has featured much more for unbeaten LouCity than during his rookie season with FC Cincinnati when, coming back from injury, he backed up eventual USL MVP Sean Okoli.
The 6-foot-2 forward held multiple defenders off the ball before assisting George Davis IV’s goal last Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Back on March 30, he scored his first professional goal in a victory over Orlando City B, then delivered his infamous backflip in celebration.
“He’s someone that we have great belief in,” said coach James O’Connor, who was glad to offer Spencer a contract out of the club’s invitation tryouts in January.
Shortly after selected 23rd in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution, Spencer suffered a devastating knee injury. Multiple ACL tears pushed back his professional debut and took away his chance to make the MLS roster.
After a coaching stint for Xaver, he signed on with FC Cincinnati for the club’s inaugural season. The atmosphere at Nippert Stadium — more than 15,000 tickets were sold as of Wednesday night — is one he knows well.
“It’s a tough place to play,” Spencer said. “It’s hard to hear your teammates. It’s hard to hear your coach giving instructions. You’ve got to stick together. Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of supporters of our own down there.”
LouCity split its away meetings with FC Cincinnati in 2016 and drew with its River Cities Cup rival at home. This year, the boys in purple will host FC Cincy on July 15 and Aug. 12 at Louisville Slugger Field.
Spencer logged few minutes last season. Amid a breakout open to 2017, he sits tied for first on the team in chances created and second in shots taken.
Now, he’s coming home with a new role.
“Really, it’s just the next game for me,” Spencer said. “I want to play well in every game I play in. I want to try and create and score. When I’m creating teammates in any game, I’m happy. It’s more just doing it in front of friends and family that I’d be looking forward to.”